A spare tire is one of those things we often do not think about until we need it. In an effort to improve fuel economy, many car makers are choosing to forgo the spare tire in favor of lighter-weight solutions.
Cutting out the weight
The heavier something is, the more energy it takes to move it from point A to point B. In cars, that extra weight translates to extra fuel. In order to meet new fuel economy standards, car makers are cutting out as much weight as they can without risking the safety of drivers or occupants. A spare tire, jack and other tools can all add up to more than 40 pounds in an average vehicle.
Other options for flats
A vehicle without a spare tire does not mean the driver will end up stuck on the side of the road in the event of a flat tire. Many new vehicles are instead equipped with run-flat tires or sealant and inflation kits that can be used to re-inflate a tire for a short period of time.
Both of these options are about as safe as a small donut-style spare tire, otherwise known as a space-saver spare. Run-flat tires are often safest when all four tires are the same.
Staying safe with a flat
No matter what kind of emergency system you have in your vehicle, a flat tire can be dangerous. A sudden change in tire pressure can mean a sudden change in handling. On the highway or at high speeds, this change can mean difficulty in handling and much longer stopping distances. If you feel a change in handling, then pull over as soon as possible and check the tires. Run-flat tires can be safely driven at speeds no higher than 55 miles per hour for approximately 30 miles. Tires that have been inflated with forced air kits can also be driven at no more than 55 miles per hour for between 30 minutes and 1 hour. If there are cracks in the tire or the sidewall is ripped, do not attempt to drive on the tire.